Tournament all-star Nick Harder and MVP Matt Brandsma celebrate after the Chargers claimed the Island title on Nov. 8. (Submitted)

Chargers drive home Island championship

Duncan Christian headed for boys volleyball provincials

The Duncan Christian School Chargers survived a bit of a scare from a local rival last Wednesday, but managed to retain the Island senior boys single-A volleyball title after all.

“It was a little iffy for a few minutes,” DCS head coach Jim Brandsma admitted. “But we pulled it out.”

The Chargers thought their real challenge at Islands would be from Ucluelet, which indeed gave the Chargers some of their toughest games of the tournament, but it ended up being Brookes Shawnigan Lake who nearly upset the host team.

The Chargers, who hosted the tournament, got by Chemainus and Victor Brodeur easily in their first matches of the day, then beat Ucluelet 25-21, 25-22 in their third match of the day. Their last match was against Brookes Shawnigan Lake, who DCS had defeated by 15 points a few weeks earlier. The Chargers took the first game 25-18, but Brookes came back and won the second 25-22, forcing a decisive third set. DCS prevailed 15-9, but Brandsma was still in disbelief that the match went the distance.

“We won by six points, but afterward I was asking, ‘Guys, what are you doing?’” he recalled.

Perhaps the players thought they’d have another easy match against Brookes, Brandsma speculated, but that shouldn’t make a difference.

“It doesn’t matter who your opponent is,” he said. “You go out there and play your game.”

The third game against Brookes was costly for the Chargers, who lost setter Nick Harder to a sprained ankle. It remains to be seen if he will be healthy enough to play at provincials.

The Chargers finished first and locked up a berth at the provincial championships, while second-place Ucluelet had to travel to Mulgrave in North Vancouver on Tuesday to battle for a wildcard spot. Brookes finished third, followed by Chemainus in fourth and Brodeur in fifth.

As long as Brandsma has coached the Chargers, it has been the goal of the team to reach provincials. The team lost a lot of height to graduation last year, but found ways to make up for it.

“Some of the younger guys are a bit smaller,” Brandsma acknowledged. “But they picked it up and were able to play defence.”

Senior Matt Brandsma shared tournament MVP honours with Ucluelet’s Matteo Ludlow, while Harder was named to the all-star team that also included Sam Baxter of Brookes Shawnigan and Patrick Wang of Chemainus.

Provincials will take place in Kamloops on Nov. 23-25, where the Chargers will be part of a tough 12-team field.

“If we finish in the top half, I’ll be happy with that,” Jim Brandsma said. “You always want to get to the 1-2-3 spots and hoist a medal.”

The first match will be crucial to achieving success.

“If we can gain some momentum, we can win a couple of games on Thursday,” the coach added. “If we do that, good things can happen.”

On the weekend prior to the Island tournament, the Chargers finished a respectable fourth at their own Senior Invitational Tournament. DCS took the bronze-medal match against Credo to a third set, but ultimately lost 25-22, 21-25, 15-7. Matt Brandsma was named a tournament all-star, and the Chargers were named the Most Sportsmanlike Team.

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The DCS Chargers celebrate winning the Island senior boys single-A volleyball championship last Wednesday. (Submitted)

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